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Playing with Sony's Linux-Based Networked Media Player 129

Posted by timothy
from the practical-application dept.
ZorinLynx writes "A while back, Sony released the NSP-1, a 'Network Storage Player.' It is intended to be a source of video for signage, such as plasma displays in banks, airports, and so on. I got a chance to play with one today. It's Red Hat Linux-based, which seems unusual for Sony! Though pricey at $1995, it's an interesting use of Linux, and could probably be hacked into a nice set-top video jukebox. It has a nice small form factor, as well as ethernet, USB, and video output in various formats, and a PCMCIA slot for removable media."
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Playing with Sony's Linux-Based Networked Media Player

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  • by fembots (753724) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @09:51PM (#12562587) Homepage
    So where's the "review" on this NSP?

    The article is more about trying to log into Red Hat without a password ( BTW is it really that easy?).

    Here's my submission

    "Playing with Toyota's Civic"

    This morning when I was about to go to work, I realized I have locked the car key inside my 1989 Civic, everything was locked and I can't remember where I put the spare key.

    Arrgh. After some fiddling with the keyhole, though, I found that I have left the driver side window slightly opened! The gap's big enough to slide a coat hanger in! So I grabbed my trusty coat hanger, made a hook and the opened the door.

    The car has a steering wheel, AM/FM radio, few buttons, pedals and seats. I also have a Knoppix CD and some Open Source documents in the glove box. Now I really don't want to sell it especially I can only fetch less than $200! ARRGH!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:00PM (#12562656)
      Doesn't Honda make the Civic?
    • I'm with you on this being a useless review.

      $2000 AND I have to hack it to do something useful?

      Does it give me super powers or something? Because I can think of roughly a kabillion devices that I don't have to hack in order to actually use them that cost WAY less. And I can MythTV those if I really want a media player that badly.
    • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:05PM (#12562707) Homepage
      Heh. I actually wish I had gotten more time to play with it, but it had to go back where it came from as soon as I "fixed" it.

      I was just surprised to find out this thing even existed, and that Sony was using Linux in one of its products. Sony has always come off to me as a company that does everything their own proprietary way, and gives the finger to most open standards. (Memory stick, anyone?)

      -Z
      • No kidding: Memory Stick, ATRAC3, UMD, MiniDisc, Betamax... did I forget any?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sony has used Linux for years - all of their PS2 and PSP devkits are Red Hat based, and they of course released a modified Red Hat for the PS2 as a hobbyist kit. There are rumors that the PS3's actual shipping OS will be Linux as well.
      • by rogueuk (245470) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:45PM (#12562970) Homepage
        Sony using Linux!?, that's completely unheard of [playstation2-linux.com].

      • Yup. I wish you had gotten some time to play with it too. That way you could have posted a reasonable review instead of a disappointing paragraph or so.

        Next time at least take some pictures.

      • by QuantumG (50515)
        Sony isn't 3 guys in a room. Different divisions of the company solve problems in different ways.
      • I was just surprised to find out this thing even existed, and that Sony was using Linux in one of its products.

        Is it really that shocking? Lots of consumer devices are using Linux. Sharp produces something similar to this one which they dub a "Digital Media Adapter." It also runs Linux. IMO, the Sharp toy is cooler anyway. You feed it media over WiFi, and the DMA shoots it to your TV.
      • Heh. I actually wish I had gotten more time to play with it

        what games did it come with, though?
      • Sony uses Symbian OS (linux variant) in the P800 and P900 smartphones.
        • Your statement is incorrect on many counts.

          - Symbian is NOT a Linux Variant. The Symbian company was originally spun off from the Software division of PSION, and formed as a joint venture between PSION, Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola. The Symbian OS is the evolution of the PSION EPOC32 Operating System originally for that platform. It is an "Open" system, but not Open Source/Free Software (Liscenses have to be paid to implement it). It is "Open" in the way UNIX was.

          - Sony and Sony Ericsson are totally diffe
      • Five years ago when I still worked for Sony we made a data server called MediaCaster http://tinyurl.com/7ud7f [tinyurl.com] that injects metadata into digital tv broadcasts (think EPG, broadcasted Applets, etc.). That server was completely based on open standards and it ran from a Debian based live cd which we created. The product is still being sold to digital TV studios today.

        So yes, Sony does use Linux and open standards in its products.

    • The article is more about trying to log into Red Hat without a password ( BTW is it really that easy?).


      Yes, he took advantage of the fact that a person with physical access has essentially unlimited power over the system.

      Short of filesystem encryption of the root FS, there's really no way to avoid this, and all Linux distributions (or any other OS for that matter) are vulnerable to this attack.

      That's why physical security is so important.
    • by William Robinson (875390) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:23PM (#12562831)
      The article is more about trying to log into Red Hat without a password ( BTW is it really that easy?).

      Yes.

      All you need to do is ...
      1. Boot from external device like CD. (If you are using installation CDs, use linux rescue option.)
      2. Mount the appropriate HDD partition.
      3. chroot it.
      4. now use setpass to change the password.

      I prefer to set password for setup, which prevents intruders to change booting options. If the intruder can not boot from an external device then it is almmost impossible for him/her to log in.

      • by erlenic (95003)
        Solution to BIOS password:

        1) Carry in my own laptop.
        2) Shutdown target machine.
        3) Remove hard drive.
        4) Place in USB drive enclosure.
        5) Mount from laptop and change password.
        6) Replace the drive in the target computer.
        • And your solution to a password locked drive?

          AH HAH I got you mr hackoo

          Cant log on to my router that way.
        • I am missing something - I guess you can get access to a target machine's data by using this method, but can't imagine how this will help with a bios password ~shrugs~ unless you aren't interested in changing the password, and only the data - but you mention changing the password in step 5. Which password would that be?
          • I guess you're thinking of requiring a BIOS password to boot the machine, in which case you're right, my trick does nothing for that. Although I would imagine that not many administrators would do that. I for one want my servers to be able to reboot on their own if need be.
            • Well, you mentioned

              "My solution to a bios password" No mention of the target machine being a "server that I want to be able to reboot on it's own" -

              Of course if you put it that way ...... it still wouldn't matter because you are talking about a bios password. You can protect boot up or just setting with a bios password, depending on your bios, but by no means can doing anything to the harddrive help you with either....
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I prefer to set password for setup, which prevents intruders to change booting options. If the intruder can not boot from an external device then it is almmost impossible for him/her to log in.

        If he has physical access then he can probably remove the cover and short the CMOS reset jumper.
      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:53PM (#12563026) Homepage Journal
        >I prefer to set password for setup, which prevents intruders to change booting options.

        That does raise the bar, but every motherboard I've looked at had some way to bypass the BIOS password, and in extreme cases someone with unsupervised physical access could pull out the hard disk and copy it. Not to mention that an attacker could read and write arbitrary memory if the machine has a Firewire port (http://pacsec.jp/advisories.html [pacsec.jp]).
        • I've never seen a desktop like this, but there are laptops whose BIOS password is stored in EEPROM and can only be reset through a JTAG port that doesn't even have a header attached to it, or similar. I have seen desktops that use EEPROM rather than the CMOS storage (yes I know what CMOS means, I also know how the term is used when you're talking about BIOS settings) but never one without a settings clear jumper.
      • Why make it so hard on yourself?

        To change root's password in Linux, simply boot up in single user mode and type passwd at the prompt.
      • HA!

        I just jank out the entire bios chip and carry it with me. Let them try to break into it now!

        Ofcourse, soldering it back in every time is a small inconvenience ...
      • Interesting - and as it's a mass produced product, my guess is that the password would be the same on every one.

        So, it might be possible to hack -:
        1. boot from external device
        2. mount appropriate HDD partition
        3. chroot
        4. "more /etc/shadow | grep root"
        5. run a cracker on the resulting string
        6. use newfound master root password to hack every Sony media center in existance
        7. release $evilempire's secret plans simultaneously to all media centres world-wide, ala Johnny Mnemonic or Antitrust
    • by chaotixx (563211) <chaotix@gCOFFEEmail.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:49PM (#12562995)
      Your car is worth way more than $200 dude. Civics made by Toyota are really rare and I bet collectors will pay big bucks for them. If you have an '89 I think it might be one of a kind!
    • I'll trade you my Honda Corolla for your Toyota Civic.
    • The article is more about trying to log into Red Hat without a password ( BTW is it really that easy?).

      Yes, it is. If someone has physical access to your machine, it's not your machine. Doesn't matter whether it's running Linux, Windows, whatever.

  • firewall? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bananatree3 (872975)
    It has a nice small form factor, as well as ethernet, USB, and video output in various formats, and a PCMCIA slot for removable media." Sounds like it would be an excellent, albeit pricy makeshift firewall!
    • (Flaimbait -1)

      Sounds like it would be an excellent, albeit pricy makeshift firewall!

      Hmm.. if you are suggesting to use this product as a free add-on to your home network, that sounds interesting.

      Otherwise why would you like to go for that kind of expensive device and turn it into firewall when you could make firewall using some junk PCs at far less price.

      • Seriously. I have an old Celeron 600 with 256 megs RAM running my firewall/squid proxy/privoxy/traffic shaper/vpn endpoint/samba pdc (just to let windows boxes auth, no fancy roaming profile bullshit) box just fine.

        Hell, it's even overkill, but I don't have any AT power supplies left to wire up anything slower.

    • Yeah! Also you should check out the iPod -- given its form factor, it makes an excellent, albeit pricy makeshift paperweight!
  • $1995?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XanC (644172) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @09:53PM (#12562610)
    For cryin' out loud! Mod an Xbox, people!
    • Re:$1995?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:59PM (#12563054) Homepage
      Did you bother to read the specs for the thing on Sony's site?

      Ignoring the fact that most businesses would MUCH rather pay for a legal, supported device than a legally quesitonable hack without a warantee, this is not some simple slide show machine.

      The page says that it can show up to five layers of content, dynamically changed if you want, with a soundtrack. It can show video, images, and even Macromedia Flash files.

      Looking at the specs, it looks like if you could just get live video INTO the thing, you could do all the effects for your local nightly news with it and then some. This box is much more than you (or any hobbiest) could make out of a modded XBox.

      • How very American... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by m4c north (816240)
        Just when I was about to ask how Sony could charge nearly 2 grand for a device that uses an open-source OS, you had to go and pre-emptively answer my question. That's some hard-core video processing going on, tho I don't suppose it's all hardware... Mayhaps Sony has written a (closed) app for the video/audio mixing?
      • The page says that it can show up to five layers of content, dynamically changed if you want, with a soundtrack. It can show video, images, and even Macromedia Flash files.

        You don't think the Xbox, or any low-end x86 machine, is capable of that?

        Anyway, the "mod an Xbox" comment was in response to the submitter's suggestion that you could hack this $2000 commercial-grade device to serve as a $200 consumer-grade set-top box, which obviously would be a poor financial decision to make.
        • I'm absolutely certain that trying to play five layers of flash movie at once on an Xbox will bring the thing to a complete crawl. No idea if the sony box will do THAT, however.
    • All i see on that specs page is that this thing has a pathetic 40 gig hard drive, displays bmp files and plays mp3s, as well as mpeg-2 video, which would cost $200 tops to do with an xbox even buying the 40 gig hard drive separately.
      • ...which would cost $200 tops to do with an xbox even buying the 40 gig hard drive separately.

        Got the Xbox out. Looking at it. Flipping through the manual. Where are the audio and video inputs? You were saying...???

        • audio/video input: the RJ-45 jack on the back. 1. acquire video media in divx format via bittorrent 2. ftp it to your xbox HD or stream it over the network from a samba share onto your tv screen 3. profit?
          • audio/video input: the RJ-45 jack on the back. 1. acquire video media in divx format via bittorrent 2. ftp it to your xbox HD or stream it over the network from a samba share onto your tv screen 3. profit?

            Uh huh. And when your audio and video signals are live and on location, you do what? Whatever your proposed solution, it's versus 'plug it in' for the Sony box. Plus there's no quick mod to duplicate the functionality. After your initial mod you'd have to install, configure and test a number of applica

    • The sum of the parts that go into that thing are going to be much less than the overall cost. And any good hacker with a few days could slap together something that works; in a few months you might have something completely stable and capable of being used by non-specialists, i.e., this device's target market.
      Now calculate the costs of that, and the number of signage players you're likely to sell.

      On the other hand, take a console, especially early in the product cycle where the manufacturer subsidizes the
  • Linux... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Devil's BSD (562630) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @09:54PM (#12562613) Homepage
    Because it runs Linux, it must be worth the $2000. Welcome to /.!
    • Seriously. $2000? I built an Athlon64 computer with a GeForce 6, 200GB SATA hard drive, WinXP, gigabit ethernet, Wifi-g, sound card, and speakers for less than that, and I can guarantee you, it plays all sorts of media.
      • Re:Linux... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:18PM (#12562803) Homepage Journal
        I doubt it is marketed towards you or any hard core Linux user. I don't think it is only about hardware. Actually, the hardware is kind of irrelevant, though it needs some to do its job. From the description, it looks to be already set up for easy web-based remote administration. Then there's the support.

        A Linux geek could set up remote administration and remote scripting, but if this thing is set up like I think it is, said geek probably wouldn't get it done under that cost and still have it be easy for a non-Linux person to use.

        The weblog entry does look like they didn't get a manual or didn't bother to read it.
    • > Because it runs Linux, it must be worth the $2000. Welcome to /.!

      Right, because as we all know Windows doesn't edge in until the price tag exceeds $3000. ;)
  • Sony and Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Sony Playstation runs Linux. So this isn't something extemely new for Sony.

    $1995 is a little expensive.
  • I'm disappointed to even hear of a device like this coming from Sony.

    I could source a standalone box from Taiwan and put redhat on it too.

    It's a clever application of commodity parts, which I expect from smaller companies with less history of innnovation.

    Where did I leave that old walkman????
  • by mo (2873) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:10PM (#12562744)
    FYI, the t10000 (Playstation 2 Development Tool) runs a version of redhat. Something ancient like RH4.2 if I'm not mistaken. You don't ssh into it or anything though, but it's web admin allows you to upload rpms to upgrade various subsystems on it.
  • not suprising... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:11PM (#12562748)
    Sony has used Red Hat Linux before. I work in the broadcast industry and I find it interesting that they use linux in a lot of their products. (both Red Hat and Debian) The thing that surprises me though is the price...
  • by slapout (93640) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:13PM (#12562767)
    ..."Playing with Sony's Linux-Based Networked Media Player"...

    my first thought was, "Someone's already ported Linux to the Playstation 3!" :-)
    • Yeah... Sony has.

      Sony loves linux. Why? Because Microsoft hates linux, and Sony loves to support anything that Microsoft hates.

      Even before the XBox. When PS2 dev tools were released it was all Linux-based. If you wanted to develop for the PS2 on Windows, you had to either go with 3rd party tools or according to Sony "If you're a big dumb idiot, then you can use Cygwin. But you shouldn't." Then, just for kicks, they released PS2 Linux.

      Unfortunately, Sony's linux dev tools weren't up to snuff, b

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:14PM (#12562775)
    Wow, This is more of a page from someones personal diary.

    'Dear Diary, I saw NSP-1 today in the halls today. I'm so in love.' XXOOXX

    So why not replace the Headline with...

    "Sony's NSP-1 Device runs Redhat Linux"
    Would be so much simpler and straight to the point. It isnt even for normal use, its to run large plasma screen billboards. (Think Statium's big screen, only higher quaility). I could see something like this to say, run a home entertainment system.. but this? Eh, intersting one liner at best.

    How did /this/ get on the front page anyways..
    • No kidding... (Score:2, Informative)

      Did anyone else notice that this guy submitted something that he had written from *his own personal blog* to Slashdot, only a few hours ago? It's only a freakin' paragraph long, for crying out loud! Not only that, but the same guy makes 5th post AND gets a +4 "Interesting" mod. Someone's a mod point whore...
    • How did /this/ get on the front page anyways..

      Because that's where new stories go. I'd like to see how much you bitched if they put new stories on the back page.
  • NOT UNUSUAL (Score:3, Informative)

    by atcdevil (700926) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:18PM (#12562804)
    The PS2Linux is RedHat based and came out years ago.
  • Sony TV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by poppageek (115260) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:31PM (#12562880)
    I bought a Sony 34" widescreen CRT TV. In the documentation was a copy of the GPL. Seems the menu runs Linux. They list the kernel, busybox and about 6 libs. I submitted it as a story but was rejected.

    I thought it was interesting as it takes awhile for it to display anything when you first turn it on. I thought the CRT needed to warm up. Maybe it is just Linux booting.
  • Video streaming... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jay-be-em (664602)
    I could definitely see some uses for streaming video off a linux device, in particular http://www.dejenerate.net/ruxpin/pub/BLACKPPL.avi [dejenerate.net]
  • by mister_jpeg (46354) <jpgburroughs&hotmail,com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:00PM (#12563056) Homepage
    Years ago I spoke to a company in Chicago who were just breaking into, even creating this market. They were using plasma displays and whatnot in retail environments. The kicker was they were running Macintoshes and all of the artwork was in Director. They ran ISDN lines to each and every location, and when there was an update, they'd have to dial each machine and upload the new artwork.


    I don't think that company still exists ;)


    Yay for Linux, yay for broadband.

  • Linux Media Player? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by querencia (625880) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:29PM (#12563195)
    If they're using Red Hat Linux, anyone have any idea what player they're using? I doubt they wrote their own from scratch for this thing, and because Sony isn't a Linux house, I'd guess that they are licensing 3rd party or using open source. (I'd love it if it used ffmpeg so I could get my hands on that cool video scheduling interface, and in any case, I'd like to know what Sony chose for their "high bit rate" mpeg2.)

    Can someone with access to one of these things take a look at the video libraries and tell us where they come from?
    • I've been using them at my new job (digital signage place, surprise). The NSP-1's seem rather finicky about the format, 720x480 MPEG2 specifically, and they claim they can also handle streaming MPEG4, but we haven't tried that yet.

      But then again, I just started fiddling with these things about 2 weeks ago so I'm sure there's a lot I don't know about it.. Although it runs apache and includes some great Engrish phrases on the web-based control thingy.

      "System is now the restarting"
      "Please wait to the close
  • by updatelee (244571) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:47PM (#12563266) Homepage
    $1995 and it comes with linux, Imagine how much it would cost if it came with XP, $2995 ?
  • I got a chance to play with one today.

    Ok Mr poster, I admit I have not RYFA. But if you played with it and it still does what sony intended it to do, then you don't know how to play.

  • There:-) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khrtt (701691) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:57PM (#12563308)
    Delta Song Airline has an onboard satellite TV in each seat back, and they all run linux. Yay!

    How do I know? Well, one time I was flying Song, and the system hung up, and the stewardess rebooted it, and the linux boot screen came up on all the seatback displays, complete with the Tux logo. It's sooo coool!! I'm soo coool!!
    • I can confirm this. I saw the seatback displays all reboot and watched Linux boot up. I thought it was pretty neat and myy wife thought I was a dork :)
    • Re:There:-) (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they're rebooting, though, there's something wrong.

      I spotted the same thing at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. There were some P3 Linux boxes(hidden inside a counter) that had encountered some problem, as they kept rebooting...
  • So, it's not all that surprising to use !Windows for a public information display. In fact I would say it's a better idea... not because linux is really better or anything (well I guess in a way) but more so that when a linux video terminal dies, it usually just goes black, as opposed to throwing up a BSOD. If I were waiting in line at a bank or something, and one of their displays bluescreened, I would loose a bit of respect for them. Maybe that's just me.
  • The target clientile seems to be institutions such as banks and airports. In that case, the price seems to be justified. If Sony wants to target the low end consumers, they will certainly have to bring down the price.
  • he didn't know the passwords to the web interface?
    *cough*RTFM*cough*
  • by suezz (804747)
    now that they are using linux maybe the will sell their fucking notebooks with linux on them.

    I am sick of these companies using linux the way they see fit and not their customers. I want to be able to buy a vaio notebook with linux on it and not windows.

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